We have now come to what is arguably the worst entry into the franchise. Now I am not saying this because of it’s low score on Rotten Tomatoes, but because many people, including the director, have stated that they do not like this movie. Now when you have the director apologizing to fans for the movie, you know it must be all kinds of terrible. Now myself, I have to admit that my initial viewing of this movie years ago would have me agree with the critics, but let’s see if the years have been a little kinder to this poor sequel and hope that maybe, just maybe, Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan might have something redeeming in it.
The plot: One year after Tina Shephard sent Jason back to the bottom of Crystal Lake, Jim and Suzy are drifting along the lake in a boat on their way to meet up with the rest of their class for a graduation trip to New York City. With it getting late, and the two wanting to fool around, they decide to drop anchor but their anchor unknowingly severs a power cord, causing a surge of electricity to go through Jason’s body and revive him. Freeing himself from his chains, Jason climbs on board the boat and quickly kills the two kids. The next day, the S.S. Lazurus is preparing to depart with the graduating class from Lakeview High School. The two chaperones, Dr. Charles McCulloch and Colleen Van Deusen, are talking about Jim and Suzy not showing up and when Colleen says that one more student is going, McCulloch is upset to see that it is his niece Rennie, as she has aquaphobia. As the ship prepares to get underway, Jim and Suzy’s boat floats into the harbor and Jason is shown to have left the boat and grab onto the anchor chain of the Lazarus. Climbing on board the boat, Jason kills J.J. as she is playing her guitar down in the ship’s lower holds. As night falls, Rennie has a hallucination about a drowning boy and as she is walking along the deck talking to Colleen, she is knocked into the water by Tamara, who thinks that Rennie had told McCulloch about her using drugs. As Rennie struggles to stay afloat, she sees the drowning boy again, this time dragging her down by her legs, before her boyfriend Sean is able to rescue her. After Rennie makes it back on board, McCulloch chastises Sean and Colleen for what happened and takes Rennie back to her cabin. Later, Tamara tricks McCulloch into a compromising position, which fellow student Wayne had filmed, and after Tamara rejects Wayne’s advances, she goes to take a shower and is killed by Jason when she is done. Jason kills the captain, who is Sean’s father, and his first mate, and when Sean and Rennie head up to the bridge to talk to Sean’s father, they discover the bodies. Sean makes an announcement over the PA, then tries to call for help but Jason disables the radio antennae. When McCulloch, Colleen, and some of the students arrive on the bridge, they see the bodies and Sean explains about the radio being dead. A deck hand shows up, telling them that Jason is on the ship, but McCulloch thinks the man is crazy and is the one killing people. One of the students, Julius, decides to go looking for the killer and convinces several other students to help him. Meanwhile, Tamara’s friend Eva goes looking for Tamara only to discover her body. She then encounters Jason as she leaves the room and tries to run but Jason catches up to her in the disco room and strangles her. Wayne goes looking for J.J. and comes across another of Jason’s victims when Jason attacks him and tosses him into an electrical box, electrocuting Wayne and causing the engine room to catch fire. As the fire alarm sounds, and the boat starts taking on water, Jason continues to kill the students and crew. Rennie, Sean, McCulloch, Colleen, and Rennie’s dog Toby get into a life boat and cast off, where they are joined by Julius, who had been thrown overboard by Jason. The group sets off and eventually reach New York City, where they try to call for help, unaware that Jason has followed them. As the group walk along the dock, they are accosted by a pair of muggers, who take their wallets and then grab Rennie and take off. McCulloch says they should split up and look for help but Sean decides to chase after Rennie. The muggers drag Rennie into an alley and then inject her with some heroin to keep her calm before they rape her but before they get started, Jason appears and kills them while Rennie is able to get away. Julius finds a phone and tries to call for help when Jason attacks him but Julius is able to get away. Julius climbs up to the roof of a building and when Jason shows up, Julius starts boxing him but when Julius gets exhausted, Jason decapitates him with one punch. Elsewhere, Sean manages to find Rennie and the soon meet up with McCulloch and Colleen, who have found a police officer. Sean tries to tell McCulloch that Jason is there but McCulloch doesn’t believe him as he ushers everyone into the back of the police car. As the officer opens the driver door, they see Julius’ head on the dash board and the officer tries to radio for help only for Jason to grab him and kill him. Rennie climbs into the driver’s seat and starts the car, running into Jason as he stands in their way but when she has another hallucination of the child Jason, she ends up crashing the car. Rennie, Sean, and McCulloch climb out of the car but Colleen was knocked unconscious and is caught in the car when it explodes. As they stare at the fire, Rennie has a flashback of being on the lake with McCulloch and realizes he had pushed her into the lake when she was a child, causing her aquaphobia. McCulloch tries to explain his actions but Rennie runs off, with Sean following after her, and as McCulloch collects himself, Jason recovers and kills McCulloch by dumping him in a barrel of toxic waste. Jason then goes after Rennie and Sean, following them onto a subway and when Sean pulls the emergency brake so he and Rennie can get off, Jason follows them but Sean jumps on him and knocks him onto the third rail, electrocuting Jason. Thinking their nightmare is over, Rennie and Sean leave the subway and start to wander the streets of New York, only to find that Jason had survived and is still after them. The two continue to run, eventually making their way down into the sewers, where the run into a sewage worker. The worker tells them the sewers are about to be vented with toxic waste and goes to lead them out of there but Jason attacks them, killing the worker and knocking Sean unconscious. Rennie leads Jason away and as he chases after her, she manages to dump a barrel of toxic waste on him, causing Jason to become even more disfigured. Rennie then goes back to Sean and after waking him, the start to climb out of there but finds their way out blocked. Jason then shows up and grabs Rennie’s legs, trying to drag her down but he is caught by the flood of toxic waste, which dissolves his body back to a child. Rennie and Sean manage to get out of the sewer and as they embrace, they are joined by Toby, who had run off when the muggers attacked them.
Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan was absolutely panned by the critics, holding an 8% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Jason terrorizes a ship and nearly sinks the franchise in a clunky sequel that feels like self-parody without the charm.” Towards the end of the movie, as Jason chases Rennie and Sean through New York City, Jason tosses a man into the mirror of a diner. That man, Ken Kirzinger, would go on to play Jason in Freddy Vs. Jason. The movie earned $14.3 million off of a $5.5 million budget, making it not only the lowest rated movie in the franchise, but also the lowest earning movie as well.
Nope, I was right. This movie is absolute brain-agonizing terror that offered very few laughs or moments of entertainment to it. The acting was honestly pretty terrible, with nobody doing a particularly good job in their roles outside of Kane Hodder (Jason). The story was kind of a mess and I know that budget issues forced Rob Hedden to cut a lot of scenes he had planned to occur in New York City, but those cuts also hurt the story quite a bit. Honestly, there was only so much of “Jason on a cruise ship” that could happen before it got too ridiculous, and even the deaths that occurred on the ship felt somewhat uninspired. Also, there was a pretty glaring plot hole about the sheer number of kids that mysteriously disappeared, as you only saw Jason kill 6 kids on screen (as well as 4 crew members) so you have to wonder what happened to the other kids. Supposedly, they were all killed off screen, either by Jason during his rampage or when the ship sank. However, Colleen had located 4 kids and told them to wait for her there while she headed to the bridge, but when she got there and Sean said they had to evacuate, she didn’t even mention them or try to go back for them. In other words, she just left them to die without a care in the world. Then we get to New York City, and I have a couple issues with that regarding Jason’s behavior. Now, we all know that Jason has a pretty solid, single-minded focus when it comes to killing teenagers. However, as he was wondering through New York, there were plenty of times where he would somewhat interact with people in the city, but the only times he physically got involved was with the two muggers, the police officer, and the guy in the diner. When he kicked the punks stereo and they confronted him, he simply turned and scared them off by lifting his mask, which was honestly a bit out of character for Jason as in all honestly he would have probably just killed them for being a distraction, then continued after Reenie and Sean. Then we get to the end, where the toxic waste somehow turns Jason back into a child. I’m sorry, but that is the one of the biggest “WTF” moments I have ever seen in the hundreds of movies that I have watched. I mean, toxic waste is basically material that is dangerous when ingested or absorbed. It doesn’t magically turn an adult corpse into a child, not to mention removing the years of decay from the corpse so that it was a normal child’s body, not including the deformities Jason had as a child. (Sorry, but my brain can’t seem to function well enough to make that last sentence sound good grammatically.) The special effects were ok, though I will say that Jason’s decayed face looked the worse that it has ever looked after Rennie tossed the waste onto him. On the whole, this was a sad entry into the series and one that can honestly be skipped if you want to binge watch the series.
Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5